So about a month ago some of you may remember we wrote an article about a friend of ours who had a problem where someone bantah his voter registration. Basically what happened was that a friend of this writer, Ross Stephenson, went to check on his voter registration online, and he found out that instead of getting a confirmation, his status looked like this:
And so in our first article about this, we followed him to the Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) office, which is in Shah Alam btw, to find out what in the world was this “dibantah” status (which you can read about here). In a nutshell, here’s what he was told:
- Someone bantah him.
- He has to come to the SPR office to settle the case on a particular date.
- If he doesn’t show up, his voter registration would be cancelled.
For those of you who haven’t read the first article, this bantahan system is basically a system that allows the public to look through new voter registrations, and if they feel that a particular person is lying about any of their details, the public can bantah them and they have to prove themselves in a court of sorts.
Anyway, he eventually got his letter, and on the appointed day, we tagged along once again. But here’s the thing…..
We weren’t expecting to see soooo many people there!
Okay to be fair, the pictures above may look like the normal crowd at a gomen office, but it’s a lot when compared to the last time we went there and there were only like 2 people aside from the staff. And apparently, they have about 100 of these cases a day atm.
We should also point out that some people from BERSIH had heard about Ross’ situation, and had come to observe the situation as well. But before we go any further, let’s have a look at some of the things mentioned in SPR’s letter summoning him to the SPR office:
- He was asked to come to SPR office on 6th March 2017, between 9am-1pm.
- Someone had bantah his application with the reason being “Pemilih diragui”.
- He was asked to bring with him documents to prove his address like a copy of his electric bill or birth cert.
And based on what is mentioned above, it’s possible that there were so many people because everyone was just told to come between 9am-1pm. Ross himself went there at 9am sharp because he feared he would miss his turn.
Timing aside, the numbers also indicated that many people had kena bantah during the last round of “Pameran Rang Daftar Pemilih” (where the details of every new voter are put on display for a fixed period of time). And they all were told to come on the same day as Ross to argue their case. But as we waited around, we started to notice something….
The same few people were the ones who membantah everyone there
As we mentioned earlier, the reason why Ross, and all these people. were called to the office in the first place was because someone had bantah their registration for whatever reason. So whoever kena bantah would wait for their turn and they would be called into a room to talk to a judge AND the person who bantah them. But as we sat there and watched person after person go in, we started to notice something – it looked as if a group of people kept going into the room over and over again.
And after speaking to a few people, it seems as if that this group of people were the pembantahs. In other words, a lot of the people who kena bantah were there because these few people had been allegedly bantahing large numbers of people. But who exactly are these people? Well, aside from Ross, Swan also was at the SPR office that day, and we managed to speak to her about her experience.
She told us that she actually forgot to bring any sort of proof (electric bill, birth cert), and had only some pictures which her mother had sent over BUT it looks like she didn’t even need them.
“Turns out they didn’t even ask for anything. They just literally ask “Oh tinggal with your emak and bapa isit?”, and I was like “Yeah”” – Swan, in an interview with CILISOS
So all Swan needed to do was answer a few questions, and angkat sumpah that she was staying at the address stated in her registration….and that was it, case closed, and her pembantah was silent throughout the whole thing. Still, she was curious as to why her pembantah actually bantah her, so….she asked him after their case had been settled.
“He couldn’t give me a straight answer.” – Swan
Swan kept asking and eventually he said that he wasn’t the one who bantah her, but someone else. In fact, the pembantah said he had received a whole list of people that had kena bantah under his name. But when Swan pressed further to find out who this the person who did the actual bantahan he avoided the question and didn’t answer. So we’re left with a bunch of mysterious people who bantah but no one knows who they are.
In our previous article we also mentioned that when you bantah someone, you have to pay RM10 per bantahan but when Swan asked him whether he paid all that money to bantah (she knew about it because she read our article btw 😎 ), he said he didn’t know anything about it.
On Ross’ side, his pembantah didn’t even show up BUT he was given the contact of his pembantah and asked to get his RM100 compensation (also something we talked in the earlier article) directly from the guy. So at least Ross and Swan both will get money from this whole thing right right? Maybe not, because Swan added that her sister too kena bantah 2 years ago, but until today had not yet received the money.
And all these only go to beg the question…
Are these pembantahs….legit?
It wouldn’t be fair if we were to talk to all the people who kena bantah, without talking to the pembantah, but the thing is we actually tried. At the SPR office we actually approached some of the pembantah but their initial reaction was to wave us off right away. But after pestering them for a while, they eventually made some comments like “it’s our right” and “you’d bantah too if you see Chinese name in a Malay residential area”.
They also mentioned that many of them were just representatives from different areas in Selangor (although it’s a bit strange how they all knew each other so well). Aside from that, they weren’t willing to talk further, nor even allow us to take their pictures.
But the stories above from the people that kena bantah seem to indicate otherwise. In fact, another person who kena bantah, Chee How, told us that the person that bantah him also received a list of names to bantah. The funny thing is, that person was actually his neighbour who knew him! And in the courtroom, the pembantah was actually shot down by the judge for even bringing him there.
But what made the whole situation look even more suspicious was when BERSIH double-checked some of the pembantah’s names on the internet. Out of 3 names, 2 names appeared on an UMNO blog. And at this point, the least we can say is that something is definitely strange in the neighbourhood.
This bantah system looks like it needs a lot of work atm
Ross and Swan aren’t the only ones who have complains about the system. We found some Facebook posts online (like here and here) mentioning the same thing. In fact, BERSIH recently had a press conference where a few people came forward to share their own stories of when they kena bantah
But what happens if you don’t make it to the SPR’s office? Well, after our initial article, one woman actually contacted us saying that she was not able to go to SPR’s office on the appointed day, and despite her asking them to give her another date, they said no. And according to the letter that SPR sends out, her registration would kena batal if she doesn’t show up, and she would have to go through the whole registration process again. And that included, you can see quite a number of flaws in the system:
- Pembantahs don’t seem to be paying the RM10 needed to make a bantahan.
- The pembantahs also don’t seem to be paying the RM100 compensation when they lose a case
- People who kena bantah have to be there on a specific day or their registration kena batal totally
So it costs nothing to a pembantah, but it can cost a person who kena bantah their status as a voter.
We cannot say for sure that there is a big political ploy at play here (and let’s be honest, many of us are thinking so), and though we can draw theorize conclusions from this scenario, perhaps one thing that seems the clearest is that the bantah system of the SPR seriously needs to be reworked.
Even though last year’s BERSIH rally wasn’t a big as 2015’s BERSIH rally, more than 10 thousand people still showed up, which goes to show that Malaysians may still have many reservations about our electoral system being clean and fair. Amd SPR wants to change that perception, they need to start addressing the concerns of the people, perhaps starting with this bantahan system.
But for the time being, there may be still those of you who don’t know if you kena bantah or not. If you’re a new voter who has only registered in the past few months you can check your status here (actually if you registered years ago also can just check to be safe). But if you have other issues in regards to this BERSIH asks that you can contact them so that they can try and help you with the situation.